NORCROSS -- Lindsay Adams loved her years as the underdog.
She unofficially began her GAC high school golf career as an eighth-grader. It started then.
Her scores may have been as low as the seniors', but her status among them was clear. She was the underclassman. Little changed the next season, despite a trio of freshmen, led by Adams, leading the Spartan girls to a Class AA state title.
Her sophomore year, she faltered at the Region 6-AA tournament, mostly because she was intimidated by Buford's Abby Johnson, who towered over Adams and out-drove her by 20, 30 yards.
Her junior year, she won her first individual state title, but still played under a long shadow of Mill Creek's Emilie Burger, who was finishing up a state-title-filled career in Hoshcton.
So when her senior year came, the new role of team leader, county and state standout didn't come natural. Even at the state tournament, where this year's Daily Post Player of the Year won her second state title, the role seemed shocking.
"I played with two freshmen, I felt like the old woman of the group," Adams said. "I have always been the underdog. Now, it's like top-dog Lindsay, the senior. Where did that come from?"
With the new position came a new maturity. Before the season started, Adams adjusted her approach to play more relaxed. She took a long view of the season, even after losing her only match in a playoff at Maple Ridge, the Kennesaw State signee brought new perspective.
"It's more of a maturity thing that happened this year," she said. "I learned from losing. You'll be OK. There is always another tournament. There is always more golf to be played. Relaxing is good. I am going to keep it."
Her calm didn't change her drive. After all, she only lost the one tournament. Her 73 at state gave her a five-stroke win and helped her team to a 26-stroke win. When she stood on the first tee, her plan "was to rise to the occasion."
The title was well in hand when she walked up 18. Both her parents, her coach and her friends filled out the fairway to watch her final high school hole.
"They were all standing in the fairway watching us putt out. It was very neat," she said.
The biggest addition to the gallery was her father, who won't watch her in tournaments because of the pressure she feels under his eyes.
"He is the pressure-type," she said. "It was kind of a big deal (to have him there). It made me happy."
Adams three-putted the final hole, and the memory brings up a burst of disgust. But it fades. That's the maturity.
Adams refers to herself as "Little Lindsay" when she talks about her early golf years, but the little moniker no longer applies. She graduated from GAC last week after a life spent learning there. She started in trailers as a kindergartner. She has her first job for this summer at the PGA Tour Superstore. When she gets to Kennesaw, she'll room with two basketball players who she hopes will "muscle her up."
And when the first round of qualifying starts, Adams will return to her underdog status. Another freshman trying to knock upperclassmen out of tournaments.
She's comfortable doing that. Like her new job selling golf gear, comfort comes from familiarity.
"It's stressful at times," she said. "Doing stuff that you actually know, helps."
Underdog or big dog, Adams only knows winning.